May 1999
Volume 40, Issue 6
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Articles  |   May 1999
Assessment of Thy-1 mRNA levels as an index of retinal ganglion cell damage.
Author Affiliations
  • M S Nash
    The Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
  • N N Osborne
    The Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 1999, Vol.40, 1293-1298. doi:
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      M S Nash, N N Osborne; Assessment of Thy-1 mRNA levels as an index of retinal ganglion cell damage.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1999;40(6):1293-1298.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

PURPOSE: Thy-1 is primarily, if not entirely, expressed by the ganglion cells within the retina. This knowledge was used to index ganglion cell death after ischemia and excitotoxicity by studying changes in Thy-1 mRNA levels. METHODS: Insults to the rat retina were delivered either by elevation of intraocular pressure for 60 minutes or by intravitreal injection of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). After a defined period, changes in Thy-1 immunoreactivity and mRNA levels of Thy-1 and NR1 (NMDA receptor subunit) were used to index ganglion cell sensitivity to damage. Opsin mRNA levels were used as an internal control because photoreceptors lack NMDA receptors. RESULTS: Retinal Thy-1 immunoreactivity, associated with the ganglion cell and inner plexiform layers, is reduced by ischemia or intravitreal injections of NMDA in a dose-dependent manner. Using a semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) methodology, the levels of total retinal Thy-1 and NR1 mRNAs were shown to be dramatically reduced after both transient ischemia and intravitreal injection of NMDA. The effect of NMDA was found to be both time- and dose-dependent. In contrast, no change occurred in the levels of opsin mRNA unless high levels of NMDA (200 nmoles) were administered. CONCLUSIONS: Ischemia and NMDA-induced excitotoxicity caused retinal ganglion cell destruction, but the photoreceptors were unaffected. Measurement of total retinal Thy-1 mRNA levels provides a useful way of following ganglion cell death especially when combined with immunohistochemical localization of Thy-1. Additionally, the effect on other retinal cell types such as the photoreceptors can be followed in concert using this technique.

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